By Beth Gallini, marathon mama of 2
With the Hogeye Marathon races just a few days away, you may have started to wonder what to do after the race.
If you haven’t started wondering about this yet, chances are you will soon! In my opinion, the two most important things to think about are your recovery alongside your post-race plans.
How you recover from a race will have a huge impact on how you feel over the days following the race and how soon you will be able to get back on the road. What you do immediately following a race and in the first few days is exceptionally important.
Stay on your feet. While the instinctive thing to do may be to sit down, try to stay on your feet. If you ran a half marathon or marathon, try walking around post-race. If you ran a shorter distance race you may want to go on an easy run of 5 to 10 minutes.
Get something to eat and drink. It is important to get a mix of carbohydrates and protein (3:1 ratio) in your system within 30 minutes of a race to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness and to allow your muscles to begin the repairing process. You’ll also want to be sure you drink some water or a sports drink.
Ease back into running and listen to your body. A general rule of thumb is that it takes your body one day to recover for every mile you raced. The longer the distance of your race, the slower you want to ease back into running. I always take a full week off with no running following a marathon and then do a reverse taper. The amount of time required for a full recovery will differ from person to person and even race to race, so it is important to listen to your body during this time. If you do too much too soon, you will set yourself back farther in the long term.
Get a massage. Getting a massage within 24-48 hours after a race will help reduce soreness. Using a foam roller on any sore areas will also help you feel better.
Take a bath. Ice baths are the common go-to for runners, but I personally prefer Epsom salt baths (Epsom salts are sold at drug and grocery stores, are very inexpensive, and do wonders when mixed with warm water [and bubbles!]). Regardless of which you opt for, taking a bath will help you to recover and reduce muscle fatigue.
Make a plan:
Runners are funny people. Many runners approach their first half marathon or marathon as a bucket list item – “one and done.” And many runners will swear off ever running another race of “x” distance mid-race. But as something happens as soon as they cross the finish line and they start planning their next race.
Find a race. If you are searching for a full or half marathon, www.marathonguide.com is a great resource with a full calendar and reviews. For local races, www.arkansasrunner.com lists races of all distances in Arkansas and some races in border states.
Don’t jump right back into hard training. Give yourself some time to run for fun without feeling as if you need to follow a strict training plan. Go for a run without your watch, arrange to meet some friends, or simply run when you feel like running. If you jump back into a structured training plan, you increase your risk for injury and/or burn-out.
Think about your goals. You may want to find a race of the same distance and see if you can improve your time or maybe you want to tackle a new distance. Think about how your training went, where your fitness level is, how motivated you are, what life events you may have coming up, and give yourself time to make the decision.
Good luck to everyone running the Hogeye this weekend and thank you to all of the spectators and volunteers! I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the Marathon Mama series and I always love receiving your questions. Keep them coming!
About Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen. She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and are 1 year old. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have. Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! #hogeyemarathon